Pastor's Wife, Mom, Writer & Imperfect Seeker of Jesus
A Bitter Root
July 20, 2015
I’m going to be honest with you--right now I’m struggling with some bitterness in my life. There is an ongoing circumstance that I truly wrestle with in a big way. A part of me wants to just lay it all out on the table, set that record straight and give people a “piece of my mind.” .....However.
The however is that I know beyond a shadow of doubt that stating my mind in this particular instance will do absolutely NOTHING to improve the situation. In fact, it may do irreparable damage to my relationship with people who I honestly love. I KNOW they don’t mean to cause me anguish, but the human part of me thinks that if I just speak up it can all be fixed so that my frustration will go away. .....However.
Jesus was the perfect vessel of truth AND grace. He knew when to speak and when to just draw in the sand. Paul says to “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV)
The Hebrews writer states, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. (Hebrews 12:14-15 NIV)
How does the bitterness even begin? For those who know us well, they know that we have a garden every year. Let me correct that--as many tell us--it’s not a garden but a truck patch. It’s about a 1/4 acre in size. And if all that makes no sense to those of you like myself who did not grow up in the country, let me explain it this way: For the tomato plants alone, Ryan planted 91 plants last summer. In addition to that we have over a dozen other vegetables that we grow.
Tilling and weeding the garden is a very therapeutic way for Ryan to relieve tension from the ministry. Not so much for me, weeding brings me no joy whatsoever, although over the years I have finally learned to enjoy some of the canning and freezing aspects to it all.
But I will admit that I do love eating the fresh veggies!! One of my favorites is fresh cucumbers--yum!!! We peel them and slice them lengthwise and then sprinkle just a small pinch of salt over them. Crispy fresh sweetness. .....However.
There is nothing yuckier than biting into a nasty bitter cucumber, especially when you are anticipating sweet pleasure. It has always bothered me that I can’t just look at a cucumber like I can a tomato and tell that it’s bad. It’s not until you actually bite into it that you find out.
So I did some research as to why some cucumbers are bitter and some are sweet, even on the same vine. What I found is that cucumbers naturally produce bitter chemicals called cucurbitacins that normally are in such small amounts that it doesn’t affect the taste. But when the plant is stressed too much, those chemicals are produced in abundance.
The primary stressors listed were temperatures that were way too hot, temperatures that fluctuated too much and uneven watering. Hmm...of course by now you know that got me thinking. There is really nothing about the heat that I can control in my own garden, unless I want to run about 50 fans or heaters out there to maintain a constant temperature or build a massive greenhouse.
BUT, we CAN control the uneven watering (outside of flooding of course). On days when there is no rain, we can choose to take the time to run the hose out there and set up sprinklers or we can just go in the house and forget about it. We’ll do it tomorrow. But then tomorrow is busy too, and before we know it the ground is cracked and dry around the plants. Then when the rain comes again, the plants suck up the moisture like there’s no tomorrow. But when the dry days come once more and we’re too busy.... Get the idea?
We do the same thing though when it comes to watering our soul with THE Living Water. We hear a powerful message, read a challenging book or go to an amazing conference and drink in the Lord like there’s no tomorrow. But then on our “regular life days” we are satisfied with just a chapter or even just a verse or maybe...oops, we forgot altogether. “I’m too tired today to do God’s Word justice.” Ever said that?
We may fill our time with GOOD things--family, uplifting movies or books, taking care of our home, gardening, visiting with friends, etc.--but we’ve neglected our souls with regular feedings of the BEST things--studying the Word of God, talking to Him in prayer or just being peaceful and still in His presence.
So when life bites into you (and it will), and you find in yourself a bitterness, maybe it’s time to double check how well you are watering your soul and tap back into the Living Water. Happy gardening!